Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Word of the day: Euonym

The movie Akeelah and the Bee is the only one that I know of that was funded by Starbucks. As a result, when it came out, Starbucks coffee shops were festooned with word cards with interesting words on them. One, I recall, had "pterodactyl," which, like the others, is challenging to spell, but familiar. The one exception, a word I had never seen before, was "euonym."

The film has a scene in which Akeelah learns how to recognize new words by recognizing their prefixes, stems, and suffixes.

I applied the same technique. "Nym" I recognized from "synonym," "homonym," and the rest, and probably means "name." "Eu" I knew from "euphoria" and "euthanasia," and means "good." Therefore, "euonym" means "good name."

I bought my coffee, went back to work, and checked in the dictionary. Yes, that's right; a euonym is an appropriate name for something.

Today, I spotted a euonym that inspired me to tell this little story. What would be a good name for a prize for the year's best book? The Booker Prize, of course.

Update 23 Oct 2013. Not quite a euonym, but in the same territory, is John Benson, a publisher of work by Ben Jonson. That strikes me as hilarious.

Update 5 Jan 2014. A marvellous euonym! The former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (that is, the head judge) rejoices in the title and name Lord Judge! Expressed slightly differently, he is Igor Judge, Baron Judge.

In addition, any mention of euonyms should be accompanied by a reference to the famous Victorian firm of toilet manufacturers, Thomas Crapper and Co.

Far less famous, but a source of amusement over the years, is a Chinese restaurant in Vancouver called the Wong Kee. It is in an older building, in need of a spruce-up, so I thought of it as the Wonky Restaurant.

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